Much has been made of late of the prayers offered by the Carroll County commissioners when beginning a meeting. Neil Ridgely and a friend have filed what I consider a frivolous lawsuit to force a change to this practice.

A review of the U.S. Constitution may be enlightening. The First Amendment reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech ..."

First, "... an establishment of religion ..." Do the commissioners encourage others to change religion? Do they pray to close churches except one denomination? Exactly what religion are the commissioners accused of establishing? I submit, none of the above. They pray to the deity in whom they believe. Would Ridgely have them pray to another deity?

Praying to no deity whatsoever seems a bit futile to me. Praying to a deity in whom you believe is quite normal. It is completely foreign to me that someone claims that praying for guidance to one's own deity is an attempt to establish a religion -- a very long and incomprehensible reach.

Next, "Congress shall make no law ... prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..." It is obvious that Ridgely is attempting to "prohibit the free exercise" among the commissioners. He wants to alter or completely stop their prayers. Can anyone argue that point? Ridgely has made it clear that the commissioners' prayers as currently offered bug the bejesus out of him. That part tickles the heck out of me. Pray on, commissioners.

If the U.S. Congress cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion how can Ridgley, the ACLU or any other leftist group? Remember. We are all permitted to practice our own religion. If the intolerant are annoyed, they need to adapt.

Lastly, how about freedom of speech? Does that not include the right to pray aloud - even in government buildings? Isn't the alteration or cessation which Ridgley seeks an abridgement of freedom of speech?

It's time to invoke Occam's razor, a philosophy which generally states that when you are faced with a variety of choices, the one with the fewest assumptions (the simplest) is the correct one. When interpreting the Constitution, use the words the Founders gave us - not ones you wished they had used. Words have standard meanings. Read them. Don't twist them.

If you agree, tell the commissioners and tell the Carroll County Times.

Rick Blatchford

Mount Airy